Throw out a sprat to catch a mackerel.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Silverobama, Jul 1, 2011.

  1. Silverobama

    Silverobama Senior Member

    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect

    Does this expression mean something to native speakers?

    Here is the explanation:

    The police want to catch the kingpin of a drug trafficking organization and set free some of the members of the organization and followed them, finally the police catch the kingpin.

    If the expression doesn't sound idiomatic, how to express the thought idiomatically?

    Thanks a lot
  2. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    It's a very well known saying in the UK. The origin is fishermen using a small cheap fish as bait to catch a larger expensive fish.

    The small fish (sprats) are some of the members of the organisation, the mackerel is the top man in the organisation. More generally, you make a small expenditure or take a small risk in the hope of a much greater gain.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2011

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